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Saints fall out of top seven in The Ringer’s way-too-early power rankings

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - JANUARY 17: Drew Brees #9 of the New Orleans Saints walks off the field against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the fourth quarter in the NFC Divisional Playoff game at Mercedes Benz Superdome on January 17, 2021 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - JANUARY 17: Drew Brees #9 of the New Orleans Saints walks off the field against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the fourth quarter in the NFC Divisional Playoff game at Mercedes Benz Superdome on January 17, 2021 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images) /
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The New Orleans Saints entered the 2020 postseason as the second-best team in the NFC, and now they’re not even considered a top-seven contender.

One year changes quite a bit, and The Ringer is banking that this offseason will transform the New Orleans Saints, a team that’s perennially been among the best in the NFC. The Saints have won four straight NFC South titles.

With Tom Brady planning to return and Drew Brees looking more likely to retire, the Saints may find it much more difficult to make that record five in a row without their future Hall of Famer. The Saints finished 12-4 last season with two 13-3 seasons both the seasons prior.

How will the team perform next season though? While it’s difficult to predict, many are not expecting the same dominant team to surface. Add in The Ringer to the list of those not expecting the same amount of success from New Orleans.

"“With Drew Brees almost certainly heading off into retirement, the most obvious question for the Saints is who the future Hall of Famer’s successor will be (Taysom Hill and Jameis Winston are the two favorites, at least for now). Past that, New Orleans is going to have to get a little creative to get in under the cap in 2021―right now it’s projected to be about $74 million over―so we could see some major changes come down the pipe. But there are ways to manipulate the salary cap, and the team is still deep and talented. With Sean Payton at the helm, the Saints, who finished the 2020 regular season first in DVOA, should remain a force to contend with in the NFC,” The Ringer’s Danny Kelly wrote."

The Saints’ biggest issue is going to be their quarterback position.

With several quarterbacks planning to change teams, there will be a market for Jameis Winston next season. Winston is the favorite to start 2021 with the Saints, but they’ll also have the draft and Taysom Hill as options if Winston heads elsewhere.

New Orleans’ salary cap situation and how Mickey Loomis navigates it will also be a huge factor. They’ll need to retain at least some talent.

Trey Hendrickson, Marcus Williams, and others will be hitting the free agency market, and with the Saints almost nine figures in the hole in terms of the salary cap, New Orleans may struggle to keep the team they currently have together.

While that could change the team, they’ll still be elite. But, The Ringer may have it right, and No. 8 may be their ceiling unless Winston shows a much-improved ability to captain the team. What’s going in the right direction is who the Saints have under contract.

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With Michael Thomas, Demario Davis, Cam Jordan, and Alvin Kamara returning along with numerous other keys starters, the Saints will look to dominate the NFC South again, and it’ll be tough to bet against them winning the division a fifth straight time.

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